Last summer, Instagram feeds were clogged with photos of giant, inflatable pool toys. A white swan became the centerpiece and Instagram trademark of parties at trendy clothing e-tailer Revolve’s beach houses in Malibu and the Hamptons. Justin Bieber lounged on a sprinkled pink doughnut. And Taylor Swift gathered a large group of friends and swans in a pool for an Instagram photo captioned Swan Squad. (The hashtag #swansquad was later used in more than 1,800 posts.) The inflatable pool toys became fashion items, to the point that they are they are now sold on Revolve.

Prior to the social buzz, few people knew about FunBoy and Big Mouth, the creators of luxury inflatable floats that can cost upwards of $300. FunBoy is the creator of swans while Big Mouth produces the doughnuts and oversize flamingos. And both companies benefited from strong social buzz overnight. We gathered a few tips for social campaigns based on their success.

Design an Instagrammable product. According to L2’s study on Social Platforms, 35% of all social interactions (Facebook Likes, Facebook Comments, Facebook Shares, YouTube Views, Instagram Likes, Instagram Comments, Twitter Retweets, and Twitter Likes) happen on Instagram. That is more than any other platform except YouTube (which is likely inflated because views are not counted as interactions on other platforms.) Given the disproportionate shares of interactions, Instagram should be a priority when planning a marketing strategy. And since Instagram is a highly visual platform, product appearance on the platform should be factored in the design process. In addition to their visual appeal, the inflatable pool toys were a success because they were unique and recognizable. The manufacturers didn’t need to insert themselves in the social conversations to drive sales; they could just let users search for the items.

social-platforms-2015-share-of-total-interactions-by-platformPick a wow factor. Both FunBoy and Big Mouth emphasize that size matters. When making Bieber’s doughnut, Big Mouth experimented with anywhere between 42 and 54 inches. (The final product came to 48.) Company president Steve Wampold said “I don’t want it to look normal. It’s all about that wow factor, it’s all about having a big super-size version.” While the doughnuts, swans, and flamingos would have looked just as good on Instagram in smaller sizes, not all party-goers would have been compelled to snap photos.   

Forget the branded hashtag. This might seem counterintuitive, since brands are told that more is better when it comes to social media efforts. However, L2 research finds that consumers are unlikely to remember a campaign or unfamiliar brand hashtag when sharing a post. In fact, a study of auto brands revealed that campaign/slogan hashtags (e.g. #buildfordtough) received a fraction of the mentions of simple brand hashtags (e.g. #ford). Since neither FunBoy or Big Mouth are household names, few will be compelled to tag the manufacturers in their posts. (Plus, #swansquad sounds better than #manufacturer.) The smart strategy is to let celebrities, influencers and consumers take over the social conversation and pick hashtags that resonate.

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